Recently, the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) of the USA representing a group of indie and major music publishers sued popular gaming platform Roblox for copyright infringement. NMPA has altogether claimed USD 200 million in damages.
NMPA's lawsuit was filed on behalf of publisher plaintiffs including ABKCO Music & Records, Big Machine Records, Concord Music Group with Pulse Music Group, deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman), Downtown Music Publishing, Hipgnosis, Kobalt Music Group, MPL Music Publishing, Peermusic, Reservoir Media Management, Spirit Music Group, and UMPG. Some of the popular artists or copyright holders include stars like Ariana Grande, Imagine Dragons, Ed Sheeran, and The Rolling Stones.
Roblox is the popular US-based, kid-focused platform for games and social experiences. The company was formed in 2004 and became a public listed company recently pegging its market capitalization at USD 52 billion. Roblox offers a library of audio files, 3D models, and other assets and as part of building experiences, Roblox's users upload these files themselves of hosting a shared library of copyrighted but unlicensed songs.
The complaint by NMPA alleges that Roblox "actively preys on its impressionable user base and their desire for popular music, teaching children that pirating music is perfectly acceptable." Further, stating that Roblox "actively encourages" adding such popular songs and that users pay for uploading audio files with in-game currency. The complaint also points out that searching Roblox's library for exact names like "Ed Sheeran" or "Ariana Grande" returns no results, however, searching for partial terms like "Sheeran" or "Ariana" will pull up tracks labeled with popular songs from both artists.
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